Los Angeles, CA

L.A. families are saying goodbye to their dying dogs, cats, and animals at home

Deanna Barnert

What to expect when you choose in-home euthanasia for your pet

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Miles Halpern, 10, and ailing Quincy say goodbye before an in-home vet came to perform in-home euthanasia/ Jami Halpern

(Los Angeles) The decision to put to rest your dog, cat, or pet is never easy, and the restrictions of the COVID-19 pandemic have only made the experience more emotionally challenging. For over a year, pet parents couldn’t accompany their beloved animals into the veterinarian for checkups or emergency care. Some locations did allow a family member to come inside to be with their pet when it was time to put them to rest, but even with much of L.A. now open, some vets still only allow one or two humans inside. That’s why many families are deciding to say goodbye at home, together, with the help of an in-home veterinarian.

“It was really beautiful,” says Jami Halpern, whose senior dog Quincy was surrounded by his entire family as he passed over the proverbial Rainbow Bridge in July. “The first time I went through this, we went to the vet with his brother and it wasn't bad… But this was definitely much better. It was a really great experience, for all of us.”

Halpern initially made the decision to find a vet who performs in-home pet euthanasia with her twins, Miles and Rosie, 10, in mind. “My vet was only allowing one or two people in the room, and I wanted for them to be with him until the end if they wanted to,” she explains. “And they really appreciated being able to have the choice and being there with him.

“But in hindsight, this was also a less stressful experience for Quincy,” she adds. “He never liked going to the vet. It's always been traumatic for him. So this was much more comfortable. It wasn't scary.”

In fact, the experience was quite ceremonial. Before the vet arrived, Halpern, her kids, and her mother Bonnie spent the morning preparing. “We made our own clay pawprint and then we painted his paws black and put paw prints on a canvas paint board,” she shares. “Then we each wrote something we wanted to say about him and we took a Polaroid picture of all of us, together. We also talked a lot about what was happening and later, the vet cut a piece of fur that we added to the board. Now, it's up on our mantel.”

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The Halpern family spent the morning honoring Quincy with this keepsake./ Jami Halpern

Quincy was pampered and remembered by his loved ones until a veterinarian they’d never met arrived. “She brought us a bouquet of flowers,” Halpern marvels. “That was really nice. She suggested we put Quincy on his bed and also had this nice, soft comfy blanket she put near him. Then she went over how it was going to work. She talked us through it, medication-wise, and told us that he would be calm and wouldn't know what was going on. He would just think he was going to sleep.”

The vet also talked to Halpern about why she was choosing euthanasia and gave Quincy a final examination. “She confirmed he had cancer all over,” Halpern shares. “She told us that old age for dogs is at 7, so he lived twice past old age. She reassured us that we were making the right decision, and that was nice to hear.”

The family sat on the floor, gathered around Quincy – who gave each of them one last kiss. At one point, Quincy’s puppy sister, Maggie, also came to say goodbye. And then the vet joined them on the floor to start the short procedure. “First she gave him a shot that was a sedative and made him go to sleep,” Halpern recounts. “Then she had to do a catheter for the medicine that stops the heart and he passed, peacefully.”

How to find compassionate at-home end of life care

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The whole family was with Quincy as he passed./ Jami Halpern

If your vet doesn’t provide at-home hospice or euthanasia, he or she may be able to refer you to another local vet who is mobile – which is how the Halperns found the vet who helped them say goodbye. In addition, there are providers who specialize in this service. Whoever you find will most likely take your pet away when he or she has passed and talk you through your cremation and memorial options.

While not all vets offer the same services, bedside manner or pricing, it’s easy to see the benefits of calling one into your home instead of going to a clinic or hospital. Just be aware, however, at-home euthanasia is not the pennywise decision.

“It was twice as much money,” Halpern warns. “It was going to be around $200 with the vet, and it was about $500 at home. But it was worth it!”

If your vet can’t help you find the right resources, here are links to a handful of L.A. providers that perform in-home euthanasia, as well as other possible in-home veterinary services:

Serenity: website

Hearts & Halos: website

Lap of love: website

Peaceful Pets Services: website

PriVET Pet Care 911 VETS® 911vets

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Deanna Barnert is a Los Angeles native and entertainment journalist with thousands of news stories, features and profiles published internationally. A member of the Television Critics Association, she’s written for "Emmy" magazine, MSN.com and SheKnows.com, served as News Editor for "Soaps In Depth," and interviewed some of your favorite stars and creators. A true Angeleno, Deanna knows L.A. is the best place to live... and the worst! She made her hometown more accessible to newcomers via her contribution to "The Complete Resident’s Guide to Los Angeles" and its pocket mini, "The Essential Tourist Guide" -- and now she's doing it for NewsBreak! Deanna is an avid traveler who lived in Madrid, Spain, for two years and did some time in NYC, but she always comes home. Check out what Deanna’s doing now by following @TVDeeva on social media.

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